Corona Warriors Waging War Against Pandemic & Promoting Pet Care & Pet Parenting


Corona crisis has gotten everyone’s life to a standstill. In such situation, veterinarians all over the country come forward as committed frontline Corona Warriors to ensure the overall care and wellbeing of your beloved pets. As a responsible pet parent, it’s your responsibility to co-operate with them, follow their guidelines and do your bit as part of the league of Corona Warriors.

Dr Hemant Jain

Dr Chandrakanta Chakartborty

Dr Ankur Narad

Dr Freya Zaveri

Dr Nilofar Desai

Vets from all over the country come up as frontline Corona Warriors to take care of our furry friends during the unprecedented time of COVID-19 crisis. They manage to open and run their clinics, hospitals and organisations amidst all challenges and difficulties. Some of them share their stories of care, commitment and concerns.
Committed clinic management
When asked about how they manage their clinics during the hard times of COVID-19, Dr Hemant Jain, Veterinary Surgeon & Pet Practitioner from Nagpur, said that the situation is very challenging as he has to run a one-man show due to non availability of staff/assistants. “We have restricted our clinic timings and have postponed some of the surgeries. Even, we provide online consultation wherever possible,” he mentioned.
Dr Freya Javeri, Practicing Veterinarian, Dog Show Judge & Animal Behaviourist from Ahemdabad said, “Keeping the current situation in mind, we are currently attending to only urgent cases and that too strictly by appointment only.” In the similar tone, Kolkata-based Veterinary Consultant, Surgeon & Radiologist Dr Chandrakanta Chakraborty, mentioned that his clinic is open with restricted operations, only essential and urgent patients are being dealt with adequate protection measures. “I prefer online consultations for optional and non-urgent cases,” he added. Scanning of body temperature of every pet parent at the entrance of the clinic is being maintained and their contact details are kept in an organised manner so that if needed it could be easily accessible.
“In this difficult situation our aim is to help both pets and pet parents. In our RRSA Foundation animal shelter we’re trying to avoid crowds. Not more than one person is allowed to come inside. And we also take all necessary precautions to ensure our staff maintain the necessary norms,” said Dr Nilofar Desai, Senior Veterinary Officer from Anand (Gujarat). Dr Ankur Narad from Bhopal said that they have cancelled all elective or non-essential surgeries and procedures including dental cleaning, using telemedicine when possible. He added, “We made separate, well-ventilated triage areas, spatial separation greater than three feet for people in the waiting area. Only pets are allowed to enter the facility using the sterile leash provided at the clinic.”
Differently from others
Telling about what it sets their clinic apart, Dr Hemant said, “With due protection and maintaining social distancing we are open both in morning as well as evening hours. We also provide medicines, pet food and accessories all under one roof. We are expert in the field and providing all the essential services since last 32 years and perform all kinds of major and minor surgeries including rare ones as well.”
On her clinic, Dr Freya commented, “I think what differentiates our clinic is our in-house diagnostics facility. With this we’re able to cater to the needs of patients under one roof and pet parents don’t need to go to a different place for diagnostics and tests.” On other side, Dr Chandrakanta said, “I prefer to work at my clinic as a consultant. So, my clinic plays a crucial role for taking decisions on specific treatment guidelines and management, thus helping pet parents. My primary aim is to guide and support pet parents to help them find best solutions.”
“We don’t have a specific place as a clinic, but whatever we have we try to maintain the protocols of hygiene and asepsis in the area. We extensively work with stray animals and have an indoor facility to do all the blood tests. Once that’s done properly, the next step is to move towards the treatment,” explained Dr Nilofar. Dr Ankur on the uniqueness of his clinic mentioned that they treat all animals including livestock and companion animals with no consultation fee during the Covid-19 crisis and planning to continue the same for the rest of the year. “We have set our slogan – ‘LIVE AND LET LIVE AND GO CORONA’. We have kept food bags for free and distributed them to animal healthcare workers who are doing the noble cause of feeding stray animals,” he informed.
Corona concerns among pet parents
Many pet parents are concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 among the pets. But there has been no report of such transmission from animal to people or vice versa. “Dogs suffer from canine coronavirus (CCoV) in which the main symptoms include gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and vomiting. Vaccine for CCoV is available, hence can be prevented easily and non-transferrable to humans, so no need to worry,” pointed out Dr Hemant.
“Apart from the concern about COVID-19 in pets, many pet parents are concerned about getting proper veterinary care and pet supplies during the Corona crisis. We are happy that we’ve catered to most pet parents’ queries and resolved them to the best of our abilities,” mentioned Dr Freya. In this, Dr Chandrakanta said, “While pet parents are concerned about the coronavirus situation, their main aim is to keep their pets healthy and consult a vet without any delay to ensure that their pets get the best healthcare facilities.”
Dr Nilofar said that it would be right to say that pet parents are doubtful about COVID-19 infection in pets and their common concern is about their pet’s health, diet and coat. Dr Ankur mentioned that several pet parents were concerned about transmission, according to organisations such as AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and World Organization for Animal Health, at this point, there is no evidence of dogs and cats become ill from this virus.
Common problems in pets during corona time
Vets have noticed a number of pets suffering from common problems during the last few months. “Viral coughing is commonly seen. The symptoms are – difficulty in breathing, restlessness, severe coughing, accumulation of sputum in the respiratory tract and the symptoms become more severe at night. Maggot wounds and tick problems are on rise. Skin and fungal infections are also common due to sudden rise and fall in temperature,” observed Dr Hemant.
Dr Freya said the problems are usually the same that happen every year around this time. “But this year we’re only attending cases that require urgent care like – emergency surgeries, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin infections, and emergency dental care,” she added. According to Dr Chandrakanta, pets have suffered from various illnesses with viral infections were predominating over the last few months. He also mentioned that canine parvovirus, canine distemper, feline upper and lower respiratory tract infections were most commonly seen, with problems with parasites, tick fever, skin diseases (dermatitis) and digestive disorders (affecting gastrointestinal tract) have started to appear as the weather is getting warmer.
“Over the last few months we have noticed pets suffering from skin problems, reduced appetite, and parvo virus,” informed Dr Nilofar. Dr Ankur said, “Encopresis—this is primary issue for urban pets who are quarantined with their pet parents and incapable to go outside to relieve themselves. This is particularly a major concern for pets who live in apartments and who, under normal circumstances, are used to going for walks multiple times a day.”
Dr Ankur continued, “Dementia is another case. Like people across the world whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down by COVID-19, dogs who are stuck in quarantine may also experience stress and depression.” He advised, “Although you might not be able to keep your pet as physically active while under quarantine, you can still keep them mentally engaged. Puzzles, toys, and treat dispensers are a great way to keep your pet happy and engaged indoors.”
Challenges for vets
Sharing the challenges they constantly face in the current COVID-19 situation, Dr Hemant said that they have no support staff available and there are shortages. “No transport facilities are available to deliver essential items, but we are still treating out patients under such situation. Also, some pet parents are unable to bring their pets to the clinic because of suspended public transport. Under such situation we try to provide online consultation wherever possible,” he informed.
On challenges they face during the COVID-19 crisis, Dr Freya shared, “Some of our clients are finding it difficult to reach the clinic. At the clinic we are working with minimal staff to ensure not to expose our employees as far as possible.” Dr Chandrakanta also revealed some of their challenges they need for maintaining adequate safety and hygiene on public health while dealing with pets. Another challenge was that they would make sure no ailing pet should be left untreated or inadequately treated during this threatening period of COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Nilofar said that one of the main challenges that she feels is wearing mask for long hours. She mentioned, “It becomes slightly difficult to work, but I know it’s important and we all at the clinic understand that. And it’s a challenge for me also to try and maintain distance from my family because we meet so many people during the day and don’t know who can be a corona carrier or infected.”
“It’s very difficult for us to bust the myth of COVID-19 transmission from pet to humans. We heard some disheartening stories. To make people understand I have released a statement to media. In addition, we face shortage or unavailability of vaccines and some anti-neoplastic drugs,” narrated Dr Ankur.
Advice to pet parents
Dr Hemant said, “Pet parents need not be panic. General checkups and treatment can be postponed. Only sick and emergency cases need to be reported to the vet. Don’t give chilled food or water to the pet as it may increase the risk of throat infection. Avoid raw and uncooked food to avoid infections.” He added that pet parents should follow protocols and other guidelines while visiting the vet and restrict your pet’s movement outdoors.
Dr Freya advised that the need of the hour for pet parents is to stay calm and stay safe at home. “Do not venture out unless it is of utmost importance. Spend time at home with your family and pets,” she instructed. Advice from Dr Chandrakanta—“My suggestions to pet parents and everyone in the industry is that don’t ignore the COVID-19 pandemic. Pets should be treated delicately and our industry should join hands virtually (in order to regulate and acknowledge social distancing) by working in a synchronised way”.
In her advice to pet parents, Dr Nilofar suggested, “Stay home, stay safe and we will fight the virus together. It is best to follow the rules and regulations shared by the government. And for pet parents an important point to remember is that, whenever you come back from a walk with your pet make sure to clean their paws, nose, and eyes before entering the house. And don’t forget to wash your hands after that.”
Dr Ankur advised, “Develop a schedule – many pets, like people, are comforted by routines. Most people are complaining that their routine is disturbed, but it is important to move ahead and make new routines and rituals. It’ll help you and your pet get some structure about play time, food time, napping, and exercising. Stay calm since pets pick up on our nervous energy, the last thing you want to do is stress them and add to your anxiety as well.”
Home rules to keep pets happy & healthy
There are certain rules which pet parents should follow at home to keep their pets happy and healthy during the pandemic days. In this respect, Dr Hemant emphasised, “Healthy and balanced diet is essential for pets. Clean the pet’s place and bowls often and their belongings in one place. Avoid giving high calorie diet, non-veg food and more bulk at night. Spend time with your pets so that they don’t feel bored and ignored. Play light soothing music to keep them happy”.
As per Dr Freya, the rules include maintaining a routine for yourself and your pets. “Exercising your pets outdoors may become difficult, so try and keep them engaged indoors using toys. Interaction at specific times in the day can be a part of the modified routine. And remember that your pets also need their time and space, so don’t smother them throughout the day. Let them play or rest alone while you do your work. Count your blessings and be grateful to be safe at home with your loved ones,” she mentioned.
“In this crucial period when we all are restrained at home, pets must be kept with simple rules. Nothing extraordinary should be tried. Whenever possible consult your vet over phone and digital mediums to avoid social gathering. If daily routine for pets is maintained strictly, like timely feeding of meals (with healthy food), regular grooming, routine de-worming and maintaining their vaccination cycle, and getting enough exercise (through indoor games), I think your pets will feel happy and engaged and also help you sail through this difficult time,” said Dr Chandrakanta.
Dr Nilofar said, “It’s the time to give 100 percent time to your pets, keeping them busy by playing indoor games like puzzle, search and sniff, Kong ball, tug of war, teach them new tricks and shower them with all your affection and love. Cherish these moments, be safe, and don’t lose hope.” In the similar tone,
Dr Ankur informed that it’s OK to feel anxious and grumpy, but keep those spirits up for yourself and your pet—spend time together, laze around, and be safe at home!
(Dr Hemant Jain, MVSc (Surgery) F.I.S.A.C.P, is Veterinary Surgeon & Pet Practitioner from Nagpur; Dr Freya Javeri is a Practicing Veterinarian, Dog Show Judge and Animal Behaviourist and a council member of the Indian National Kennel Club and Co-founder of Wagging Tails Dog Training Academy, Ahmedabad; Dr Chandrakanta Chakraborty, BVSc & AH, MVSc, is a Kolkata-based Veterinary Consultant, Surgeon & Radiologist who has been trained in advanced diagnostic procedures of ultrasounds, digital radiology & EKG; Dr Nilofar Desai is Senior Veterinary Officer at RRSA Foundation, Anand, Gujarat; Dr Ankur Narad is from RGCN Pet Clinic, Bhopal)